Concerns over canal bank risk

'Terrible tragedy': Wayne Hamilton fell into the Sheffield and Tinsley Canal, Attercliffe.     PICTURE: STEVE PARKIN.

'Terrible tragedy': Wayne Hamilton fell into the Sheffield and Tinsley Canal, Attercliffe. PICTURE: STEVE PARKIN.

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A CORONER has voiced concerns about the safety of a canal embankment in Sheffield where a young musician fell into deep water and drowned while fleeing police.

Wayne Hamilton, aged 25, was last seen running away from officers who suspected him of smoking cannabis. His body was pulled from the Sheffield and Tinsley Canal five days later.

Jurors at Sheffield Coroner’s Court heard Mr Hamilton was on bail awaiting a court appearance at the time of his death in June 2010, and was also carrying drug paraphernalia.

Assistant deputy coroner Martin Fleming said he would be writing to the owner of the embankment land, close to Attercliffe tram stop.

“Anyone climbing what appears to be a waist-high perimeter fence can find themselves unwittingly stepping into a treacherous situation,” he said.

“People can find themselves propelled into that canal where it’s unusually deep. Even good swimmers may well be unable to escape in those circumstances.”

He added: “This is a terrible tragedy for Mr Hamilton’s mother, family and friends who have all had to bear this for the past two years. It’s important to try to learn some lessons from such tragedies.”

The jury of four men and five women took three hours to return a unanimous narrative verdict.

Jurors said Mr Hamilton, from Heeley, was travelling in his bandmate Lewis Trotman’s car when it was stopped for a ‘routine vehicle check’ at around 1am.

“Mr Hamilton was advised that he was going to be searched by officers due to the smell of cannabis in the vehicle in which he was travelling.

“Prior to the search Mr Hamilton ran from the police for reasons known only to himself.”

Jurors said he ran over the canal bridge at the junction of Chippingham Street and Shirland Lane.

“Once on the far side of the bridge it’s unclear which way he ran. Having run away he fell down the steep embankment and into the canal, entering the water at speed.”